It would be an exceptional understatement to say that yesterday’s race was blessed with better weather than last year’s. The pleasant drive to Strathyre delivered us to a calm, overcast day which was excellent for a run in the hills. The race started off up forest tracks for a couple of kilometers until a steep climb gained us the first ridge. I found this section to be the greatest struggle, it was very hard to make the transition from slogging, hands-on-knees up the steep hill onto shallower angled, uneven ground; it was just very hard to stand up, push my hips forward, and open up mys stride. I definitely lost some time and a few positions there.
Chris caught up to me as we reached the top of the ridge and began the steep, treacherous descent down the muddy slope to the valley floor. I spent significantly less time on my ass this year than last, though I still spent a little bit of time there. Chris and I then started up the formidable slog up the other side of the valley together, after several minutes of almost crawling up a narrow path though the heather, he asked me something to the effect of, “How much further to the top?” After consulting my watch, I replied, “Well, we are at about 400m now, which means at least 600m more, but there is definitely quite a bit of down between here and the summit as well…” I can”t recall his exact response, but it was something to the effect of, “I’ve had enough of this, I’ll see you at the finish line.”
At some point during the uphill slog I finally managed to get into my rhythm and began to actually feel like could make some headway. I started to pick people off at this point and picked up momentum as we gained the proper ridge approaching the summit proper. Conditions on the summit were much better this year: less wind, no hail, and I didn’t even have to glissade down! Really feeling good now I cruised along the ridge and back down the valley, then up again. I had hoped to finish somewhere between 2:30 and 2:45 (or even under 2:30; A boy can dream, can’t he?). I reached the forest track at exactly 2:30 and realized I was really going to have to get a move on if I wanted to make my goal. It is amazing how fast you can move after almost 13 miles of hill running if you really want to accomplish a goal; and, a couple of sub 3:30 kilometers later I crossed the finish line.
I was quite happy, knocking 34 minutes of time time from last year and crossing the line in 33rd place, just 2:44:03 after starting.
Job well done to everyone who competed, but particularly my teammates Chris, Ali, Chris, Angela, Daniel, Erik, Celine, and Lindsey.
After treating ourselves to delicious venison burgers and hot chocolate at the Inn we headed home for the night.
Today I stretched out my legs with a nice little 14km run through the trails around Tentsmuir Forest.